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Rev. Heys is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.

Although it is true that “to err is human,” this statement is a truth with which the unbelieving sinner agrees. However, it makes a world of difference whether by the words “to err” you mean sinning against God, or simply doing something of which your fellow men do not approve. To err can simply mean to make a mistake in your writing or typing, for which you need an eraser then in order to put down the correct spelling. Besides, although it is true that to err is human, we must say much more than that. We must say that sin—no matter what form it comes, or in what way it is displeasing to men—is an act of hatred against God and deserves everlasting punishment.

Bear in mind the fact that Adam and Eve’s sin of eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden was far more than an error. It was such a terrible sin that it made the whole human race guilty of hating God; and it brought the punishment in hell upon the whole human race that they would bring forth in time. Adam and Eve brought SIN into the world, and not merely error, in the sense of mistake. It was not due merely to what man calls wrong thinking and willing, but was something against Gods willing and thinking, an act of hatred toward Him. In our courts men are tried, not for what the world calls sin, but what mankind considers to be a crime against man, as misdemeanor, a violation of a law of mankind. We must, however, call every sin of man rebellion against our God. Sins are not mistakes, or human errors, but acts of hatred against God, Who made us to do His will, and to do it in love toward Him.

Now, when Abraham lied about Sarah being only his sister, he made it possible for Pharaoh to commit the sin of taking her for his wife. That was no mere error on Abraham’s part. The awful plague that God brought upon Egypt reveals clearly that He considered it to be a sin; and that Abraham had also sinned, and had not merely made an error which could be erased by man.

And now we find Lot, his nephew, committing, not an error, but a sin against God. It was a sin that, in a sense, was of a different form than Abraham’s was, but was very definitely an act of hatred against God. And God made him suffer severely because of that sin, as we shall see, and as is presented to us in Scripture.

Lot was not Abraham’s son, but he was a nephew brought up by Abraham after his, that is Lot’s father died. Abraham taught him much about God and our calling to serve him. Of that we may be sure. When God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, Lot went along. Likewise when Abraham went northward to Haran and then southward to Canaan, Lot went with him. When Abraham went even further south into Egypt, because of the famine God sent into Canaan, Lot went with him. This was a sinful act of Abraham; and now in Genesis 13 we read of a sin, an act of hatred against God that Lot committed, one of actually walking in the same sin that Abraham had committed, and for which he set an example.

Abraham had set his affections on earthly things and ceased walking by faith in God, Who had brought him not only to Canaan, but had very clearly and emphatically told him that THIS was the land which He promised him (Genesis 12:7). In fact there He stated, “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” Plainly Abraham should have stayed there. But the desire for material gain, worldly things, moved him to go down into Egypt, where there was no famine. God did not tell him to go away for material gain. There is no question about it that Abraham knew that God promised him this land. And it is also so very true, as Abraham’s return to Canaan shows, that the Canaanites, who stayed in the land Abraham left, did not starve to death. They came safely through that grievous famine. And it was God Who brought them through it. They did not even have the promise that God gave Abraham. And let us not overlook the fact that Abraham had he not committed this sin of ceasing to trust in God and His promise, would not have been tempted to commit that next sin of lying about Sarah, not being his wife but being only his sister. Here was a true statement that nevertheless was a lie. We might say that it was no error on Abraham’s part to say she was his sister; but it definitely was a sin to deceive Pharaoh. In fact, even after Pharaoh took Sarah to his palace, Abraham did not yet come with the truth that she was his wife as well as his sister. This also reveals that it was a sin on Abraham’s part to go down to Egypt, after he had been promised that land of Canaan. It reveals the materialism in his mind, his love for worldly things, seeking the things here below, and not trusting in God Who had very definitely, word for word, assured him that Canaan was the land he would receive for his seed as well as for himself.

Still more, in Genesis 12:8 we even read that the city where God gave Abraham this promise, and where Abraham after that promise had even built an altar to God, was called Bethel, which means House of God! He left thatbehind. It is no wonder then that, when he told Lot to choose where he wanted to be (if Lot went eastward, then Abraham would go westward; if Lot went to the left, he would go to the right; and if Lot went to the right, he would go to the left), Lot chose to go where he would gain materially. Material things were more important to him than spiritual things. Abraham had set the example by going down to Egypt, away from the land God promised him. Lot followed in his footsteps and chose to go into the region of some desperately wicked cities, because “it was well watered everywhere, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt” (Genesis 13:10). Get that! God Himself shows us where Abraham went; and that Lot follows Abraham’s example!

What a lesson for us! It is so appealing to our flesh, and easy as far as the flesh is concerned, to move away from a city where there is a church that preaches the truth, and unto a city where the lie is preached; or even to go where sin abounds much more than where we live, because we can get more material wealth. Spiritual wealth is of minor concern for us. O, yes, we still say with the mouth that we want it; but with our deeds (as was the case with Abraham and Lot) we say that we need to get away from this “famine.” And then we get away from the Bread of Life preached in the region where God brought us.

What is an undeniable fact is that, when one is walking in the wrong spiritual direction, he must turncompletely away, and go back to the way of truth and righteousness. We cannot stand still spiritually. We go either in the right direction, in the fear of Gods name; or we go in the wrong direction, the way of hatred toward Him. One turns around and away from sin, or one continues in acts of hatred toward God. There just is no neutral ground. We turn from sin, or we go further into sin! Stay in the shadow, and you will be outside of the sunlight. Grow in the pleasure of worldliness, and you grow in hatred toward God. There just is no spiritual neutrality. There is no spiritual standing still. We go forward either in works of love toward God, or in deeds of hatred against Him. He tells us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And either we add to our good works, which He in His grace enables us to do, or our debt before Him becomes bigger and bigger.

Now Lot reveals his lack of interest in God’s covenant promise. Not rejoicing in what God promised Abraham, he went away from him with whom God had made such a rich promise, and went unto a people that hated all works of love to God, and hated God Himself. In Genesis 14:12 we read that Lot actually lived in Sodom; and in Genesis 19:1 “that He “sat in the gate of Sodom.” This means that he was, to say the least, a friend of those wicked people of Sodom. People often gathered in the gates of the city for judgments, for settling of their problems—and it is not impossible that Lot was a magistrate, a ruler of a section of the city. He married an ungodly woman of the city, and let his daughters marry some of these wicked people. No, we do not read literally that his wife was an unbeliever. But her dropping behind Lot and their daughters, and looking back at the cities, after being forbidden to look. back, reveals her unbelief, as does also the punishment that God meted out to her.

Lot’s hesitation and delay in leaving the city before the brimstone came reveals the weakness of his faith, and his longing to live in that godless city with the wicked Sodomites. Why, he even offered to these Sodomites his daughters! Yes, he did try to protect these “strangers” who came to inform him of the destruction of the cities. But we may never sin to try to keep others from sinning. We do read in Genesis 19:18-20 that Lot pleaded with the angels to be allowed to go not so far away as they had told him to go. Truly, Lot, even though he was an elect, believing child of God, whose life was spared from that judgment of God upon the wicked in Sodom and Gomorrah, was at times very weak in his faith. And the truth is plainly before us in this incident that the children of God can and do have only a small beginning of this new obedience. We can at times become very weak in our faith. And if God does not deal with us in His mercy, and if He does not see us—which He surely unceasingly does—as those for whom His Son died, we would cease to be believers and would suffer the same wrath of God as that which fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and upon Lot’s wife.

And we can be sure that here is a shadow of what lies ahead for the church, and is even being practiced greatly today. Not only are we already tempted to leave the sphere where we can be vibrant, living members of the church of God, who hunger and thirst for the truth, and want to gather with the saints to sing God’s praises; but when we are soon going to be called to have the mark of the beast in order to buy and to sell, the temptation will be great for us. And it is only because here we have a shadow of God’s grace revealed in saving Lot, that we can have the confidence that God will keep His elect in the faith, and bring them to the new Jerusalem, where no sin will ever be present.

Why are incidents such as the one of Lot’s sins presented to us in Scripture? The answer is: To teach us and to warn us. We as parents must set a good example before our children. Our children must be taught so that, when they become parents, they do not set a bad example for their children. Our God, in His tender mercy and grace, presents these sins so that we may, in His loving kindness, be warned.

The lengthening shadows that come when the sun reaches the low western horizon warn us that night is coming. These sin-shadows, cast on this earth by members in the Old Testament church, warn us of what lies ahead.

Today we see the church world mingling more and more with the ungodly world, instead of living sharply antithetical lives. This warns us that we must, to our coming generation, present the warning that what calls itself the church loves the world rather than the kingdom of heaven, and is tempting the true church into today’s Sodom and Gomorrah, that is, into what God is going to punish with an awful torment!

God Himself tells us to remember Lot’s wife. Let us also remember Abraham’s sins which Lot followed. These sins of Lot we will consider more fully, the Lord willing, next time. But read in the Scriptures what Lot’s descendants did, and what happened also to them.